Brisbane to Coolah Tops December 11 - 18 2022
  We are "on the road".

Decided on the "easy route". A few km to the freeway, a toll, then south on the Mt Lindsey Highway, through the border ranges.

We stopped the first night at Urbenville, in the forest reserve. A leisurely 150km.

Aches and pains not unduly aggravated.

From concerned and apprehensive to confident, a giant leap ....

  Night two, another 150km. Camped in Ramornie State Forest, near one of the may borders with national park.

We had intended to camp at Nymboida River Camp, remembered from a previous visit. However, storm clouds and some rain deterred us. The track down to the river is a bit steep. Manageable, but we really didn't want to go for a slide, or have to wait for it to dry before driving out.

Of course, not much rain and the tracks dried rapidly.

  The Ramornie Road is along a ridge, with occasional views across the hills.

A clever bit of navigation between river sources.

  We join the old Glen Innes - Grafton road and head west, following the Boyd River.

We've traced and joined all the rivers previously, but that was a long time ago. We turn south at Dalmorton, crossing the Boyd River.

If I recall correctly, where the Guy Fawkes River meets Sara Creek it becomes the Boyd River.

  Into Chaelundi and Guy Fawkes National Parks.

An easy forest drive we have followed several times.

  With a brief stop at the lookout below Chaelundi Mountain. Looking across Guy Fawkes River Valley.

We think the clearing, just left of centre, is about where the Chaelundi Camping Area is.

With Chaelundi Creek then Lucifer's Thumb behind.

  A favourite walk - if such a thing exists - at least one we will always enjoy. To Lucifer's Thumb and a view north of the Guy Fawkes River Valley. We are 600m above the floor, and there's more hills above us. A big country.

The rock wallaby didn't stand still long enough for a pic.

I talked briefly to someone who left his bicycle hidden in bush at the campsite, then drove to the top of the maintenance track. The beginning of a 6 day bush walk into the valley. He was on his own as companion had Covid.

If I were 10 years younger I would have volunteered ......

...... I think I need a bit more recovering before being too adnventurous.

As people keep reminding me, while saying "don't overdo it", open heart surgery is a serious operation. It seems the 12 weeks recovery is for the sternum (sliced longitudinally to gain access to heart) to be considered "joined" with the help of stainless steel staples. And as usual I seem to have underestimated the total time for recovery with possibly unrealistic expectations.

  Just the creek near the campsite.
  And a flower .... we have no idea, but all the rain in the last many months, which has flooded the Murray Darling basin and wider in NSW and Victoria, seems to have made flowers more prolific than we usually see.
  Cobrabald TSR (travelling stock reserve) which is also a fossicking reserve. About 17km SW of Walcha.

We met one vehicle in the reserve, but we were the only campers.

We hoped to see platypus, but camped next to the creek and making noise all we saw were ducks on a couple of km walk alongside the creek.

  Watched the crop duster do circuits. The landing strip is downhill. As soon as the wheels leave the ground the right hand turn begins, and climb just enough to clear the trees.
  Rural peace and quiet.

Bigger than Jennifer's creek, but similar vegetation.

  Complete with fox, that studiously ignored us.
  We have no idea. There were several.

Some birds fly straight, some swoop in a gentle arc to reach their target branch, others mix fly and glide, while these flit.

Very busy, they mainly hide in the reeds, occasionally flitting from one bank of reeds to another, by the shortest and fastest route.

  We counted 5 foxes.

We'd noticed the track to the water's edge from under a large willow.

  We headed towards Nundle. The hill down from Hanging Rock is not as long or steep as the Moonbie hills on the New England Highway.
  And across the Liverpool Plains. Signs of harvest.
  We are headed to Coolah Tops National Park. A longer day than we'd anticipated, about 350km.

We thought Pandora Pass looked inviting. To enter the park we had to head West, then South, then East. The pass was the shortcut.

Pandora Pass is one of those passes the early Europeans needed to find so they could populate places like Liverpool Plains.

We ignored the "usuitable for..." sign. Then the impromptu "road closed" signs as we figured any flooding was long gone. Then the "we are tired of pulling 4wd out" sign.

Our nemesis was the second creek crossing from the junction at the southern end. The concrete slab had been moved leaving a bit of a step. Just a couple of km to the junction. Easy to see why some would rise to the challenge ...

  There was a bit of an iffy way across, but discretion is the better part of valour.

The "the next one is worse" sign had finally convinced us. Slow learners, and full marks to the signwriter.

So we returned over the pass, a nice drive. but adding about 60km to our day.

  The track into Coolah Tops National Park.

We thought the area had been logged. It seems for railway sleepers. So some good forest remaining.

  Between the two 10A fuses on the top row is a melted patch. There used to be a fuse. I scraped away what I could when it was still molten.

The smoke coming from the area of the fuses under the dash was a bit of a giveaway that something was wrong. It happened on a steep bit of the track, just before the park entrance. 2nd gear steep.

Stopping and turning ignition off stopped the smoke rapidly. I didn't have to dig in the toolbox for spanner to disconnect battery.

The fuse key says "back light". After removing as much debris as I could I tentatively turned the ignition back on. Everything works.

Following day I loosened the fuse block to investigate behind. No melted wires. Removing the debris seems to have broken the circuit. I still don't really know what its for.

A bit of a contortion act trying to work under the dash, more than a few twinges from my chest wall. It doesn't help that my eyes don't focus as well as they used to. I refuse to grow old gracefully (whatever that means).

This is the second time for similar occurrence. Last time the fuse didn't blow and wires melted causing much damage. This time it seems the fuse just got hot and melted the plastic.

Just in case I disconnected the battery overnight.

Not serious now, nothing to stop our progress. But a long time concern.

  A walk in the park.

A family of grey fantails.

  And giant grass trees.

Centuries old. Most have flowered recently.

  Impossible to photograph well.

But awesome.

  The track is a loop around the grove. So sun from different angles.

But bright sun so lots of contrast.

  Did I mention the flowers. It seems the whole country, from Brisbane to at least here, is greener and more flowery than we've ever seen it.
  On our return to the truck, at Cox's Sawmill, we see our truck has been well guarded by a couple of the resident wallbies. There are lots.

A side effect of all the rain and plant growth is lots of animals.

Though surprisingly we've seen little road kill - perhaps natural selection has been doing its work and fewer animals occupy the road in ways that are deadly for them.

  Below the campsite is a creek.
  Leading to a waterfall off the edge of the plateau.

We are not as steady on our legs as we once were. We followed where others have walked to get here, but decided a bit slippery and a long drop so took a bush bash detour loop over the hill to get back to camp. Lots of fallen small branches, but easy going.

  Did I mention butterflies.

Everywhere. Prolific.

  And just around the creek these interesting looking plants.
  Day three at Coolah Tops.

And definitely cooler (!). Altitude is about 1100m.

A few clouds and less sun. So a quick trip back to the Grass Trees.

  Definitely easier to take pics of with less contrast.

And of course we see more, as always with second visits.

  Gluttons for punishment we set off walking to Pinnacle Lookout. About 4km North of us.

We lost the Mullion Track part way along it. Found ourselves back on the road.

At Budella Lookout signs of a bygone industry, railway sleeper cutting. Now used to stop people leaving the road and car park.

It would make a magnificent campsite, and probably was at one time. A very large clearing with an edge.

  The view is looking north(ish). Across the Liverpool Plains.

Pandora Pass is out of sight somewhere to our left, the hills are higher.

We've had mobile phone reception for the last couple of km as we descended towards the lookout. Good signal at the lookout.

  About a km to the west is Pinnacle Lookout. A well made path, for the last 800m.

The park appears as a bit of a maize to us. We are slowly making sense of it.

  And another view, looking north(ish), from a sharp ridge, Pinnacle Lookout, reminiscent of Lucifer's Thumb, but sharper.

The range that has Pandora Pass a bit clearer, still to our left, out of the pic.

We followed the Mullion Track back towards home, the tracker told us when we found where we previously went wrong.

Perhaps a note, there are no track markers, no blazed trees, to help us with poorly defined tracks.

The tracker says our round trip was 11.44km. I'm becoming suspicious of the tracker, perhaps if it wasn't in my pocket it would get better readings. Our average speed didn't feel at all like 4.2km/hr. Either way, we are tired. A bit further than we would have liked, and lots further than the 6km I estimated from the park info map at the Barracks Camp.

It didn't help that one track sign said the Mullion Track from Pinnacle Lookout turnoff to Pinnacle Road was 2km, which measured as 1.5km on the tracker and straight line 800m on the map.

A nice, but very tiring, walk.

Capertee NP and Mount Werong - Blue Mountains NP December 19 - 24 2022

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